Every year, the second week in April is the AVMA’s (American Veterinary Medical Association) National Dog Bite Prevention Week. Dogs make for some of the greatest friends a person could ask for, but if put in a difficult situation, all are capable of biting regardless of their size, age, or breed. Read on for some useful tips and tricks on dog bite prevention including situations to avoid, body language to recognize, and recommendations for reducing your own dog’s risk of biting.
Avoid Certain Situations
Dogs are more likely to lash out and bite if they are in unfamiliar or vulnerable situations. Therefore, it is best to avoid approaching and petting dogs who are not familiar with you when they are:
- Not with an owner.
- With their puppies.
- Sleeping or eating.
- Playing with a toy.
- On the other side of a fence.
Quick tip: Always let a dog see you approaching and then allow them to sniff you before you get too close or start to pet them!
Recognize Body Language
Dogs typically bite when they are feeling aggressive or anxious, so it is important to understand their body language:
- Aggressive: Dogs will try to make themselves look bigger.
- Ears up and forward.
- Hair and tail stand straight up.
- Straight-legged stance.
- Make direct eye contact.
- Bare teeth.
- Growling or barking.
- Anxious: Dogs will try to make themselves look smaller.
- Flatten ears.
- Tail between legs.
- Crouch to the ground or roll onto stomach.
- Avoid direct eye contact.
- Lower head.
- Attempt to retreat.
Quick tip: Many dogs will show mixed body language with signs of being both aggressive and anxious. Therefore, it is best to avoid approaching or petting dogs who are displaying any of these behaviors!
Recommendations to Reduce the Risk
While we cannot influence the behavior of all dogs out there, we are able to influence the behavior of our own. There a few things you can do in order to reduce your own dog’s risk of biting including:
- Socialize your dog with other animals, people, and new places. This will make them more comfortable and confident in new situations, reducing their risk of becoming anxious or afraid.
- Take your dog to obedience training lessons. This will teach your dog good, appropriate behavior as well as open a window of communication between your pup and humans. If you are looking for somewhere to start, we do offer excellent obedience training lessons through Barkefellers University.
- Spay or neuter your dog. It may seem basic, but this will improve your pup’s behavior towards other animals and people.
Quick tip: The earlier you start these recommendations the better! Start reducing your dog’s risk of biting when they are still a puppy through socializing, training, and appropriate procedures.